Kansas Tells Drivers to Move Over for Utility Trucks

By: - August 17, 2021 12:00 am

A motorcycle escort of law enforcement officers ride in the June motorcade for a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while making a traffic stop. Every state requires drivers to slow down or switch lanes when they pass emergency vehicles, and Kansas law now requires drivers to do the same for utility vehicles. Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press

Drivers in Kansas already had to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles. Now they’ll need to do the same if they encounter a utility truck on the road.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly held a ceremonial bill signing last week for a new law that requires drivers to yield the right-of-way if an authorized utility vehicle is displaying flashing lights.

It prohibits drivers from overtaking or passing another car when they are within 100 feet of a utility vehicle. Violators face a fine.

The law applies not only to gas and other utility trucks but also to cable and wireless repair vehicles.

“This legislation will keep Kansans safe by helping ALL of our emergency responders act quickly and efficiently. We know that it works, we know that it’s important, and I’m proud we got it done,” Kelly said in a statement last week.

Every state has a “move over” law that requires drivers to slow down or switch lanes when they pass emergency vehicles, and, in many states, when they pass tow trucks and transportation maintenance vehicles. Still, safety experts say many drivers don’t know about the laws.

About eight people in the United States are killed every day in crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This amounts to about 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries a year.


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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.